Yesterday, I had my first-ever massage. I am not going to lie that before it started I was a bit uncomfortable. (It was probably the being mostly naked in front of a total stranger. The bowtie makes you think I am hot, but in actuality, I am not.) I kept saying stupid or inane things, trying to make small talk with the receptionist and then with the masseuse. (I try to make jokes when I am nervous.)(Emphasis on “try”.) I am surprised that I didn’t get turned away from the place or get pawned off a rookie. (I did keep it together enough to not make any “happy ending” jokes. Whew! Filter (and dignity), still intact.)
When I got on the table, things became a whole lot more comfortable. The very warm table with the extremely soft and fuzzy blanket set me at ease and the massage began. I came into this thinking that all of the kinks, strains and pains that had been accumulated over the past 33 years would be magically massaged away. One of my co-workers had mentioned earlier in the day that when you get a massage, you sink into this hazy, languid fog of relaxation. So I waited…… and waited….. and waited. Then I waited some more.
The kinks were being worked out, sort of. I figured that I just had too much built up muscle tension to make it all go away the first time. I was resigned to the fact that the massage was going to be fine, but nothing I would ever really want to do again. Then, when I least expected it, came a little slice of heaven.
The masseuse placed a large, steaming hot towel on my back, then placed the fuzzy blanket over that. It was like being in my own giant cocoon. It was amazing. Unfortunately, the rest of the massage seemed to fly by after that. But I definitely found that massage fog and pretty much was floating around for the next hour or so. I’m pretty sure I am now addicted.
The most interesting side-effect of the massage is that I have become more acutely aware of my body. (Not that way, sicko!) I remember being very conscious of where my arms and legs were in space. I could sense that the massaged leg was much less tense than the leg that was yet to be massaged. And so on. The great thing (I hope) is that I have started to carry this over into the “real world”. The past two days, I have been making a conscious effort to truly relax my body. Release the tension in my shoulders and neck especially. When I am standing in the mall (or even right now when I am staring at the computer screen), I am trying to detect the tense portions of my body and working on letting the tension go or improving my posture. We’ll see how long I can keep this up.
There were a few other oddities about my first massage experience. The first was not being aware of the “Relaxation Room”. Apparently not every spa has one of these, but essentially it is the place you go to disrobe and relax before and after your massage. Think of it as a really fancy locker room with good feng shui. There were drinks and snacks as well as a few surprises. Surprise #1 in the men’s area was that tucked in amongst all of the upscale magazines like Wine Enthusiast and Cigar somethingorother, was a copy of US Weekly. (They must have known I was coming!) Surprise #2 was that there were DVD’s in the Relaxation Room. Do guys really spend hours in the Relaxation Room watching movies? I guess nothing says “relaxation” like The Office and Christmas Vacation.
Coming in to the massage, I was not sure if I would prefer a male or female masseuse. I wouldn’t balk at either one, but if I was given the choice, I wasn’t sure what I was going to choose. Luckily, that dilemma was saved for another day, as I had no choice. They only had females available, so female masseuse it was. I initially wondered how uncomfortable the massage were going to be, given that someone of the opposite sex was going to be having access to parts of my body that the general public usually doesn’t get. Pleasantly, these worries were much ado about nothing. Much of this had to do with the obvious professionalism of the masseuse and I think the fact that Susie and I were getting massages also had something to do with it. However, there was one moment of discomfort and it occurred during the massaging of a part of my body that I would not have expected to be any issue.
Hands are amazing and powerful parts of the body. Packed with some of the most intricate muscles and most sensitive nerves, the hands are one of our largest portals to the world. In fact, I think hands are frequently taken for granted. I know I do. I am sure of this because when the masseuse started massaging one of my hands, it was the only time I recoiled internally. It felt too personal, too intimate. I was not expecting my hands to be so sensitive to this. They know the special people in my life by touch, they immediately recognize who gets to hold them and who does not.
I then started to think about how I take holding hands for granted. Usually it is a command to Hannah to hold my hand, so that she doesn’t run out in to the street or into a crowd of people. It is a steering device after a large event, shepherding my wife through the crowd. It is picking up Amelia for the millionth time today because she keeps trying to go behind the television. But each touch with my loved ones is an invitation to be close and connected. The sturm and drang of the day makes you forget that much of the time.
For some day, Hannah and Amelia won’t want to hold my hands anymore. They will be old enough to run off on their own, they won’t need me to keep them from dangers in the house. They won’t want to be tethered by hand to the family. Before I know it, they will be flying off on their own, finding other loved ones whose hands they would like to hold. Susie and I will be able to hold hands long after that, but even those moments are fleeting.
So the next time we touch hands, I will cherish the connection. My hands are worth it. In fact, I think they deserve the hot towel treatment.